Lesson 2: Don’t fight the plane.

Today’s flying lesson was one chock full of experience. Last week we did the walk around together, this morning he held the book while I did most of the work, prepping myself for when I have to do the preflight inspection alone.
I taxi the plane to the end of the A (pronounced Alpha) Hangars and Skip requests for  N3521Q to take off. I taxi to runway 05 from the hangars, and we are number four to take off. In front of me are three other planes waiting for that paved road that allows you to go anywhere. I wonder how many of those are doing flying lessons, and which ones are crossing the state for that morning’s adventure.

The Tower tells us that we are cleared for take off, and I taxi the plane on to the runway, and Skip says “A Hollywood take off: Lights, camera, Action”. On his mark I smoothly apply full power and we start down the runway. In a Cessna 172, a pilot is to start pulling back on the control wheel at 55 knots. I waited until the plane had about 70 knots of speed. As soon as I pulled back on the stick the plane just jumped into the air. Skip tells me that’s ok, we had a little extra airspeed. From my first lesson I remember to make sure the nose doesn’t get too high, this requires to push the control wheel forward, shouldn’t be too complicated. But there I was, pushing as hard as I could, trying to keep the nose wheel down as the plane climbed to our altitude. I would get the nose where I wanted it, and as soon as I let go, up it goes, it was a roller coaster ride, up and down up and down.
Skip makes a few comments about my struggle with the plane, wondering why I’m having so much trouble. He said the first lesson I did great on take off. I asked him how much of that lesson he flew on climb out, he said none, just like today.
After what felt like a lifetime, it probably wasn’t even one whole minute, Skip comes to the rescue, and as soon as he touches the control wheel  he realizes that the plane is trimmed way to high.
Trim, with the proper power setting, allows you to set the plane in an attitude that you want without your hands needing to be on the control wheel. This plane was set for the plane pointing pretty much straight up! As soon as he fixes it I relax my grip on the control wheel.
A quick flashback reminds me that I set the trim at the start of the runway. Oops.
I knew about trim, I knew it’s purpose, but now I know that it should be my firend not my foe.

We turn towards the northwest and he shows me the boundary of the practice area.  Interestingly he tells me that he wants me to keep west of I-75, the reason? There is a group of radio towers that extend to 1519 ft in the air. “Those could ruin your day” We do some climbs, and turns, and practice coming back to straight and level flight at the right time. He asks if I see them, and instantly they appear right in front of me.

We come in from the west over Pine Island and then Cape Coral to land at runway 05 and the wind is pushing us pretty hard. Skip lets me know that this crosswind landing lesson is happening a lot sooner than he expected. During a crosswind landing a pilot needs to apply rudder, that allows you to point the nose to the runway. I read about it before. But actually seeing the plane swing towards the runway was pretty exciting. During our approach Skip requests to land, ATC responds, and we have to confirm, he nudges towards me, and I say my first words over the radio  “321 Quebec, cleared to land” The only problem is that our plane is 3521Q, the controller doesn’t correct me, and I didn’t realize until after finding my recording on liveatc.net that I made the flub.

Listen to my debut here: 1st radio call 321Q (wrong plane name)
We land safely and I wipe the sweat from my brow, it was a challenging second flight, but after telling the story countless times to family and friends, everyone noticed that I always had a smile on my face.

A general idea of where I flew today

A general idea of where I flew today in N3521Q

Just the numbers:

Hours Today:
Total: 0.9
Dual: 0.9
Solo: 0.0
Landings: 1
Total Hours: 1.6
Total Dual: 1.6
Total Solo: 0.0
Landings: 3

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Cleared for Takeoff: Flying Lesson 1

First flight with N3521Q

So. I flew a plane today. I had my first flying lesson with Certificated Flight Instructor (or CFI for short) Skip Bentley. I arrived at Page Field Airport (FMY) in Fort Myers at around 4:45 pm and after a few minutes of a briefing we were in the hangar doing an actual preflight inspection on N3521Q, a Cessna 172.
Here I am standing in front of a machine that will make my childhood dream come true. With the preflight inspection, I make sure the plane is taken care of, so it can take care of me. Skip and I walk around the plane, showing me everything that needs to be checked before every flight, letting me know that I will soon be doing these preflight inspections by myself. But don’t worry, there is a list, pilots love lists.
After a successful preflight inspection, we are satisfied that N3521Q is safe to fly; we pull the plane out of the hangar, do a few more checks, and turn on the engine. I quickly learn that the wind created by the propeller is very real, pushing the doors of the plane closed.

While the plane is on the ground, you keep your hands off the yoke. Planes are not cars. You steer with your feet using the rudder pedals in a plane. I already knew this and it wasn’t hard for me to fight the urge to steer with my hands while taxiing (moving the plane on the ground). Skip kept his feet on the pedals with me, but I did most of the taxiing to runway 23. Just short of the runway we pulled over and he explained what was going to happen, he took this time because I was going to make this plane leave the ground. Another check of our critical systems before crossing the runway threshold line. I line it up with the center. Skip tells me that when we reach 55 knots I’m going to lift the nose off the ground and shortly after that, we are going lift the rest of the plane too! Before I knew it, I was in the air with a giant smile on my face. I made a plane take off.

1st take off

1st take off in N3521Q

While in the air we practiced the very foundation of flying, straight and level flight which is exactly what it sounds like. The plane is not turning left or right and it’s not climbing or descending. I also practiced climbing turns, descending turns, how to trim the plane.
After a few minutes of turning to a desired heading he pointed out the rotating beacon in the distance. I asked if that was FMY, and he said no, that was Punta Gorda Airport (PGD). I had forgotten how fast planes go, even little ones with only one engine.

They say that learning to fly is easy, learning to land is the hard part. Today I did two of about a million more landings to come. The first landing was a special landing, called a touch and go. Where, once again just like it sounds, you land, and quickly take off again without coming to a full stop. The landing looked good, Skip did have to remind me to push in the throttle all the way. There I was again, taking off a second time in less than an hour. We flew around the airport and came in for one more landing. He helped me line the plane up with the center line of the runway, but he said I was a good student.

1st sunset flight

Taxiing towards the Alpha hangars using taxiway A4 from runway 23 (remember using your feet) I bring N3521Q to her resting spot for the evening. Skip calls for a fuel top off, we do a post flight on our Cessna 172 and push the plane in for the night. At this point, my cheeks hurt from smiling so much.

I flew a plane today, and yes, I loved it.

Landing at Runway 23

Landing at Runway 23

I hope you enjoyed my little retelling of my first flying lesson. Make sure to sign up and receive the next article in your inbox.
If you have any questions, comments, or ideas for my next post. Just shoot me a line or leave a comment on this page.

Just the numbers:
Hours Today:
Total: 0.7
Dual: 0.7
Solo: 0.0
Landings: 2
Total Hours: 0.7
Total Dual: 0.7
Total Solo: 0.0
Landings: 2

Posted in Aviation, FMY, Lessons | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Start Your Engine! Flying Lessons Start Tomorrow

Tomorrow, January 28th, 2012, I will be taking my first Flying lesson. That incredible milestone flight will be in the best selling airplane known to man: a Cessna 172, tail number: N3521Q.
I’ve been in a non-airliner plane only once before, for my discovery flight in 2008. That plane was Piper Archer, and I will never forget the day. I went up with my best friend and it was a birthday gift from us to us.
Tomorrow’s lesson will mark the day that I really start training for my Private Pilot Certificate and taking you, my readers, along for the journey!
Earlier this month I became a member of the Fort Myers Flying Club, and also received my 3rd class medical certificate. A piece of paper that officially recognizes me as a student pilot.
Now, you don’t normally need your medical until you want to solo the plane. But I already know I want to solo (and so much more) so I went ahead and received my medical exam and passed with flying colors. (I’ll describe the details of getting a medical in a later post.)
These next few months exepect to hear from Born Without Wings on a regular basis. On this site I’ll bring you my lessons in as much details as possible, hopefully so you can learn and be entertained by my adventure in becoming a pilot. For your reading pleasure I’ll also be tracking expenses, sharing tips, news and flying information. Hopefully sooner than later, I’ll also have video from the cockpit. Alongside chronicles of my flying lessons I’ll be posting news and interesting stories that relate to General Aviation and answering your questions about planes and flying, and maybe even the occasional giveaway.

If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or post ideas, let me know!

As always, Happy Flying

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Why do airplanes have headlights?

I had a friend over one day who has an intense fear of flying, but a keen interest in technology. He looked at me square in the eye and asked me “Why do planes have headlights? What do they need to see, the sky better at night?”

The short answer is simple: Planes don’t have headlights.

Continue reading

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Youth Group Loses Plane to Mother Nature

Among the wreckage caused by the tornado at Sun n’ Fun was a Light Sport Airplane that was built by the Aviation Exploring Post 491 of Birmingham, Alabama. Aviation Exploring is a branch of the Boy Scouts of America that exposes teens and children to the world of aviation in different ways. Many of the AE posts build planes and raffle them as fundraisers. The AE Post 491 was doing just that, they built a Kitfox and were selling raffle tickets to raise funds to buy their next project plane.
But on March 31, 2011 in Lakeland Florida, all of those plans changed for those young adults who spent countless hours pouring their hearts into that plane.
They are excepting donations on their website AE491.org.

The photos were taken and can be purchased by Barb Cochran Photography at barbcochranphotography.com/.

Posted in Aviation | 1 Comment

Stormy Weather at SUN ‘n FUN Destroys Planes

Every year there is an aviation expo that takes place in March or April at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. This event is SUN ‘N FUN, Spring Break for Pilots. Thousands of aviation enthusiasts, vendors, acrobatic performers, and of course pilots, flocked to LAL this year to enjoy the show.
But this year will be remembered as “The year with the storm”.

On Thursday, March 31st 2011 at around 2011 an EF-1 Tornado ripped through the airport and flipped, destroyed, damaged and mangled vehicles, structures, and airplanes. Luckily, no deaths were reported and the few injuries that were sustained were not serious.

Below are a few websites that only begin to show the extent of the damage received by these flying machines.



Type in “Sun n Fun 2011 Storm tornado” or any combination into your favorite search engine, and you’ll find plenty more pictures, and videos.

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2011 Florida International Air Show

2011 Florida International Air Show
WHAT:   2011 Florida International Air Show
WHERE: Charlotte County Airport in Punta Gorda
WHEN:   March 26-27, 2011 10am-3pm
PRICE: Adults:$18(online) $20(At the gate) Kids ages 2-12: $5
For more information visit: Floridaairshow.com

What are you doing this weekend? How about seeing some of man’s greatest flying machines flying over you performing feats you thought were only possible in the movies.

The Florida international Air show is happening this weekend. Here you will be able to see the finest military aircraft including the F-22 Raptor and the F-16. Acrobatic stunts where pilots can demonstrate the precise control that they have over machine.
This weekend should provide fun for the whole family.
Make sure to bring ear plugs.

If you need a place to stay, check out the Microtel Inn just over the river. Tell them Waner sent you.

Are you heading to the Florida International Air Show? Let me know in the comments.
Hope to see you there!

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Page Field Aviation Day 2010 (the pictures)

Here for your viewing pleasures are the pictures I took on November 13, 2010 for the Lee County Port of Authority “Aviation Day 2010”
I’m still getting the hang of exposures, and it was a very bright day in Fort Myers.
To view all the pictures I took that day Continue reading

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Aviation Day 2010, This Saturday November 13 2010

WHAT:   Aviation Day 2010
WHERE: Fort Myers KFMY, Page Field Airport
WHEN:   SAT Nov 13
COST: Free*
With the winter months approaching and the temperatures finally starting to drop in South West Florida, it’s a sign that flying weather is becoming calmer and plentiful in the region. To the recreational and private pilot in the area this signals many things, more weekend getaway flights to Key West (which by the way, take only about an hour or less from KFMY), more flying to nearby and faraway airports in search for that perfect $100 hamburger, more flying hours to get to that next rating, and of course, Fort Myers’ Aviation Day. Continue reading
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Ask an Aviation Question, Win a Free Headset

Have you ever looked up the sky and wondered how planes fly? Continue reading
Posted in Aviation | 2 Comments